Magazine article Drug Topics

The Acne Age

Magazine article Drug Topics

The Acne Age

Article excerpt

Many teenagers--67%--turn to over-the-counter drugs for problems caused by acne, according to a new survey conducted by NFO Research Inc., Greenwich, Conn. Only 13% of those surveyed used a prescription medication to treat their acne, while about one-quarter used no medication at all.

As for physician visits, only 16% of adolescents saw their doctor about their complexion problems. In addition, the study noted that teenagers see their physicians very infrequently. About one-half of teens have seen their physician once a year or less often.

The report on acne was released at the recent American Medical Association's Science Reporters Conference in Seattle. The survey was based on interviews with 1,000 teens who were 12 to 18 years old and currently experiencing problems such as pimples or acne. The study, a nationally representative sample, considered similar numbers of males and females.

Diane Haas Baker, M.D., clinical professor of dermatology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, who presented the findings at the meeting, said many teens are not aware that successful treatments are out there to help them. Teens believe that acne is just part of their teen years. And the majority of teens buy OTC medications because it's much easier to go to a drugstore and buy an OTC than to make an appointment to talk to a doctor. Baker believes that getting the advice of a physician and prescription medications are often more effective than using OTCs.

Confident though they may seem, teens worry a lot about acne, and it affects their self-esteem. More girls than boys are perturbed when zits appear on their faces (89% versus 78%). Between 30% and 40% of teens "feel frustrated, embarrassed, anxious, or lack self-confidence due to their complexion. Teens who said their social life is affected by their complexion are twice as likely to experience these feelings."

Baker said acne makes teens "more reticent, less outgoing, less willing to take chances, and less likely to participate in dances, dating, and social activities. Teenagers [are going] through a very sensitive and vulnerable time in their lives. How they look affects how they feel. If they don't like how they look, it'll affect how they feel about themselves."

One-third of teens believe that complexion is the first thing others notice about them, and this makes them self-conscious. Among the teens who think their complexion affects people's reaction to them, more than one-half feel that pimples are the first thing people notice about them and that makes for a negative first impression. …

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